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Unaka Prong - Salinity Now! CD (album) cover


Unaka Prong


Crossover Prog

4.95 | 3 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars Man! these guys are tight! Man! is the production on this album amazing! Man! have these guys gotten better! Man! is this a confident band of young musicians, or what? Man! Is this one of the best collections of entertaining, interesting, deeply layered, masterfully crafted and performed, and perfectly mastered songs ever created?!!! YES!

1. "You Want Me to Do What Now?" (5:38) high energy mania with amazing stop-and-start complexity and perfect cohesion and timing! And the sound is so good! Perfect mixes of the instrumental tracks! Jazz-rock at its funkiest best. One of those songs that simply must be heard to be believed! The drum-led section in the third and fourth minutes is awesome! The guitar solo (which is really a synth trying to sound like a trumpet) in the fifth minute reminds me of old Jeff "Skunk" Baxter back on the early Steely Dan albums. (9.5/10)

2. "Misinterpretive Clues" (2:45) is a second spirited and amazingly intricate song construct built on some incredible drumming but this one has singing! Great phrasing and delivery of the witty lyrics by bassist Jonathon Sale! (9.5/10)

3. "Slow Dance" (6:02) starts out a little bland with it's thin, bluesy, organ-base, but Daniel Stephenson's singing and lyrics are fun and the excellent chorus and following instrumental bridges make this one super special. Great slide work from guitarist Mike Welsh. Nobody in prog world is playing the Hammond like Chris Pope--and always with such amazing sense of melody! (9/10)

4. "Aibohphobia" (7:05) bouncy bass and organ open this instrumental with a nice little cantor before wah-ed electric guitar-sounding synth and other synth sounds start alternating melodic soli over the top. Great chord and key progressions! The tempo shift at the two minute mark is a great trick. More volume pedal-controlled guitar in the background while synth solos over the top, then back to the first section's themes and pacing. Such a fun song! Definitely evokes memories of some of STEELY DAN's early instrumental work. Man, are all those keyboard sounds being performed by one man? Such fluidity and confidence! (10/10)

5. "Come on Back" (5:47) a little gentle PAUL WELLER-like guitar play sets up this incredibly emotional, poetic, and engaging song. One of the best lyrics I've heard in years--beautifully performed by guitarist Daniel Stephenson as lead singer and composer; beautifully, sensitively supported by the band. (9.5/10)

6. "Fine Leather Shoes" (5:17) clever, witty, DONALD FAGEN-like lyrics with an awesome BLUE NILE-like singing style as performed by drummer John Hargett over some complex jazzy rock. (10/10)

7. "Blue Mountain" (6:30) full on STEELY DAN--only no L.A. studio musicians, these young men are all doing it themselves. Daniel Stephenson's vocal delivery (and lyrics) have this refreshing jazzy style to them that is very reminiscent of the great MICHAEL FRANKS. Amazing drumming from John Hargett. And the instruments are so well balanced in the mix! Again, I have to repeat, the engineering on this album is superlative! One of the best sounding albums since . . . Aja! Fun percussive guitar antics in the fourth and fifth while Chris and John play off each other. And HERBIE HANCOCK would be proud of Chris's work with the Fender Rhodes sound. (10/10)

8. "Fluvial Landscapes" (7:30) a great instrumental that opens with some Latin-infused percussives from the drums, the bass and guitars soon join in giving it an early STEELY DAN sound--but the compositional complexity is far beyond anything the Dan were doing in their early days. Again, drummer John Hargett really shines on this one. Man! these guys have grown! They are SO tight! Amazing Hammond work beneath the rhythm section throughout the fourth and fifth minutes. And I'm so glad to be able to hear Jonathon Sale's deep bass thrombosis up front and center (he's often mixed a little too deeply into the sound for my tastes). Cool note play with the lead guitar solo in the final minute. Man this instrumental has it all! And these guys definitely have the chops! Early 70s SANTANA: Eat your heart out! (10/10)

9. "Lake Jam #3" (5:25) a vocalized Lake Jam? Well, will wonders never cease? Jonathon Sale's doubled up vocals work, even with these long, drawn out words and syncopated pronunciations. And this chorus! It's so infectious! I love the guitar and keyboard support for the vocal melody! (9.5/10)

10. "All Aglow in the Golden Hour" (4:24) a song with a little more country feel, but it really comes off more closely to one of The Amazing's (without the vocal reverb). An unusual singer has taken the lead vocal (and lyric writing duties?) on this one (Drummer John Hargett). It's fun, catchy, upbeat, danceable, happy, and still consistent with the western North Carolina feelings and themes that the other band members gravitate to. Also weird to have a UP song that is so guitar dominated, in which Chris's keyboard work is so far in the background. What versatility these guys have! (9/10)

11. "Colossus" (5:08) a slow, bluesy rock song with a simple instrumental support for lead singer Daniel Stephenson's verses, but then the Hammond rises and the chorus (with female vocal background support!) just sucks us in and transports us back to some very emotional family roots: "Take me back to a time when friends felt like family..." Beautiful! (9.5/10)

12. "Irma" (7:57) the one true "prog" song on the album. (Was this song written for me? Is this the "Run Out" of 2018?) Every sound, every hook, turn and riff, seems straight out of some classic progressive rock band. And this is beautifully constructed, slow to build and shift, expertly fabricated and performed. Great chord progressions, surprising shifts, unexpected singing and melody choices. Again, I am dumbfounded: Is there anything these guys can't do? While John's drumming is awesome, there's something weird that I don't like about the way the toms are recorded/treated on this one (reminds me of Steve Gadd on "Aja"). Again, it's nice to hear the guitars venturing off into improvisational work--very much like REINE FISKE! (The highest praise I can offer!) (10/10)

I have loved every album these boys from Boone have ever done (three, so far) but never have they put out an album that has this consistency and such amazing, amazing sound production. There is not a song on this album that I will ever skip over--they're all going to give me years of joy and surprises--from the nuances in the music as well as from the intricate collaboration of the collective members. Though I really miss the magical dimension that Nic Pressley's trumpet adds to the UNAKA PRONG sound--and I hope he comes back when grad school is over--it becomes obvious with Salinity Now! that this band can make it as quintet. I hope the hard work pays off for these boys, that prosperity follows, cuz they sure deserve it!

If you want to hear some of the finest music and musicianship happening on the planet right now, you needn't go further than Appalachia! They're UNAKA PRONG and they will not be denied!

Five stars; an undeniable masterpiece of eclectic progressive rock music and, in my opinion, one of the shining lights of the present and future of rock music!

BrufordFreak | 5/5 |


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